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ashokbhatia

In quite a few memoirs of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, we are treated to an exquisite insight into the way the long arm of the law works.

One is not referring here to the stern looking beaks who sit in a Court of Law, eyeing Bertie Wooster or any of his friends censoriously over their well-polished pince-nez while dishing out sentences without the option.

Instead, one alludes here to the humble constabulary which ensures that the laws in force are rigorously implemented without a flaw on their personal reputation and character. While tracking down criminals, they spare no effort. It is their upright and proper conduct which upholds the might of the Law. They are invariably meticulous in their approach. They show due respect to the gentler sex, unless they have direct evidence to the contrary. Even defaulters of the canine kind do not escape their fury.

When it comes…

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In quite a few memoirs of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, we are treated to an exquisite insight into the way the long arm of the law works.

One is not referring here to the stern looking beaks who sit in a Court of Law, eyeing Bertie Wooster or any of his friends censoriously over their well-polished pince-nez while dishing out sentences without the option.

Instead, one alludes here to the humble constabulary which ensures that the laws in force are rigorously implemented without a flaw on their personal reputation and character. While tracking down criminals, they spare no effort. It is their upright and proper conduct which upholds the might of the Law. They are invariably meticulous in their approach. They show due respect to the gentler sex, unless they have direct evidence to the contrary. Even defaulters of the canine kind do not escape their fury.

When it comes to Plumsville, they play pivotal roles in many a narrative. Here are some which readily spring to one’s mind.

  •          Laying off the Vitamins

In The Mating Season, we get introduced to constable Ernest Dobbs who is a sleepless guardian of the peace ofPGW MatingSeason King’s Deverill. His face looks as if it has been carved out of some hard kind of wood by a sculptor who had studied at a correspondence school and had never progressed beyond lesson three.

In the discharge of his duties he does not hesitate to arrest dogs like Sam Goldwyn who lose no opportunity of sniping at him and are a menace to society in general. Just before he can catch Gussie Fink-Nottle who has set Sam free from custody, Jeeves coshes him, making him feel as if he has been struck by a thunderbolt. This somehow changes his spiritual outlook on life.

When he comes calling later at Deverill Hall on an unpleasant errand – to arrest Gussie who is impersonating as Bertie – he first asks Rev. Sidney Pirbright if he can start singing in the village choir. In turn this leads to the romantic rift between him and the maid Queenie getting healed. A kissing scene follows, and the cop is quick to apologize for his naked display of emotion. He then proceeds to decline a sandwich or two, because he believes that when a policeman is on an unpleasant errand, he is expected to lay off the vitamins.

Jeeves gives Gussie an alibi, making Catsmeat take the rap instead in the crime of having abstracted a property of the Crown – to wit, a dog. As luck would have it, Catsmeat happens to be the would-be brother-in-law of Esmond Haddock, the local Justice of Peace. Haddock loses no time in telling Dobbs how slender the evidence against Catsmeat happens to be.

A country policeman surely knows what happens when you get in wrong with Justices of Peace. Also, being in love himself, he is gently persuaded not to throw a spanner in the happiness works of Catsmeat and Gertrude. He allows himself to be dismissed without a stain on his character. Once off duty, he promptly proceeds to the kitchen, so as to resume his romantic parley with Queenie.

  •          No Listening to the Derby

Ring for Jeeves brings in an elderly Colonel Aubrey Wyvern, Chief Constable of the County of Southmoltonshire.PGW RingForJeeves His daughter Jill is affianced to Bill, the ninth Earl of Rowcester. He is short and stout and is none too happy about the quality of butlers and cooks these days. He is called upon to solve the mystery of the missing pendant of Mrs Spottsworth, a guest at Rowcester.

While conducting his investigation, he declines to listen to the Derby on the radio, lest it interfere with his work. The main suspect happens to be Captain Biggar who happens to have merely ‘borrowed’ it for a day, as security for a gamble but then  eventually decided not to do so. The pendant gets duly ‘discovered’, thereby rendering his investigation null and void.

Once Jill is heart-broken, having found Lord Rowcester (Bill) coming out of Mrs Spottsworth’s room at two o’ clock in the morning in mauve pyjamas. The Chief Constable decides to whip Bill for his misdemeanors. Upon finding his own horse whip missing, he decides to walk over to Rowcester Abbey and borrow Bill’s own whip so as to complete his mission! Luckily for Bill, by the time he arrives, Jill realizes her mistake and the lovers have already reunited.

  •          Prowling in the Rain

In The Code of the Woosters,  we get to meet Eustace Oates. He has his own methods when it comes to solvingCodeOfTheWoosters crimes. First thing, he tries to unravel the motive. He then finds out who had the opportunity of committing the crime under investigation. Once he has a list of suspects, he starts looking for clues.

When it comes to his own helmet getting pinched, suspect number one happens to be Stephanie Byng who believes her dog Bartholomew has been teased by the constable. The helmet eventually gets traced in a flower bed below Bertie Wooster’s window. In order to ensure that he does not escape the premises, the constable is made to keep patrolling below the window.

Eventually, thanks to the magic of the word ‘Eulalie’, Jeeves persuades Roderick Spode to take the rap instead. Even though Bertie is off the hook, Sir Watkyn Bassett forgets to ask Oates to stop his vigil. Thus, the poor constable continues to prowl in the rain, providing Bertie with a curiously mellowing sense of happiness.

  •          Resigning in the Face of Fraud

Joy in the Morning has Stilton Cheesewright playing the vigilant guardian of the peace. He is not one of ourJoyInTheMorning eight-hour slumberers. He is always up and doing, working while others sleep. He believes that Bertie is out to outmaneuver him when it comes to winning the affections of the star male-reformer Florence Craye.

Bertie is accused of pinching his uniform so as to be able to participate in a fancy dress ball. Uncle Percy, the Justice of Peace, needs Bertie’s support in standing up to his formidable spouse (Aunt Agatha, who else!) to provide an alibi for him to have spent a night away from his living quarters at Steeple Bumpleigh. Jeeves lays the blame instead at the doorstep of Master Edwin who has a motive in Bertie in taking the rap.

Uncle Percy refuses to sign the warrant against Bertie. In fact, he goes a step further in ticking off the cop. He laments a deplorable spirit creeping into the Force – that of forgetting their sacred obligations and bringing up wild and irresponsible accusations in a selfish desire to secure promotion.

This revolting exhibition of fraud and skullduggery makes Stilton decide to resign from the Force, thereby restoring the romantic relations between him and Florence. As a result, Bertie yet again escapes the prospect of a saunter down the aisle and returns to the metropolis a free bird.

  •          The Hell-hound of the Law

Jeeves and the Kid Clementina (Very Good, Jeeves) introduces us to a cop who creeps behind Bertie WoosterVeryGoodJeeves just when he is perched on a tree and is planning to drop a flower plot through the roof of the green-house of a convent presided over by Miss Mapleton, the female lion-tamer. Roberta Wickham had suggested this diversionary tactic so that her cousin Clementina, who was A.W.O.L. from her school, could ooze back unnoticed into the premises. 

Thanks to Jeeves, the constable is ticked off by Miss Mapleton for having bungled the courageous attempts of Bertie to ward off some imaginary miscreants by climbing onto the  tree. When the flower-pot does fall through, he is promptly dismissed and packed off on his errand of duty so he has another opportunity to justify his existence. This way, the rates and taxes paid by the common public do not get squandered.

In Plumsville, the cops are not expected to resolve the kind of crimes which might make the Scotland Yard interested in their investigative skills. When pitted against the inimitable Jeeves, the hapless rozzers have a slim chance of cracking a case. Even if they happen to do so, their paths are strewn with Justices of Peace who have ideas of their own.

Nevertheless, they continue to regale us with their exploits. Their integrity is indeed praiseworthy. Come rain or sunshine, they perform their duties with utmost dedication. Romance might sway them somewhat at times but never does it detract them from their duties. Nor do ham sandwiches. Derby is not of much interest to them. Even if an offence has been committed by a canine of an unfavorable disposition towards the men of the Force, they do not hesitate to work with exemplary diligence.  

Generally, what they lack in height is more than compensated by their rotundity. A stern gaze and an authoritative demeanor is their hallmark. Their ‘Ho!’s, ‘Ha!’s and snorts often carry a sinister ring, making an ordinary citizen shuffle his feet and feel diffident. To the bold and the beautiful amongst the citizenry, their shining helmets provide an allure which is often irresistible.

The thoroughness with which the gendarme get portrayed is typical of the manner in which P G Wodehouse etches out his characters from diverse fields of life. Through the conduct of the Justices of Peace, he brings out the eccentricities of the upper echelons of the social order of his times.  

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